No one aggravates movement conservatives more than Al Gore.
Frankly the antipathy is hard to understand. Gore's a nice guy. Smart. And a centrist really.
But it's the global warming thing that seems to push bull-necked conservatives over the edge. And they're really gonna get their guts twisted up this morning when they wake up and find out that Al Gore and the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change just won the Nobel Peace Prize
Why do conservatives wear blinders when it comes to global warming? I'm not talking about the Republican party here. We know why IT refuses to even acknowledge the existence of global warming--it's chief constituency consists of large multinational corporations, led by big oil, a group for whom any regulation is bad enough, and emissions regulation is sick-making.
But what about rank and file GOP members? A poll reported last spring by The New York Times found that not only did 90 percent of Dems and 80 percent of independents believe immediate action was required to curb the effects of global warming, but also 60 percent of Republicans felt the same way despite years of filibustering from the top of the GOP against the evil forces of science.
It's time for the Democrats to use global warming as a wedge issue. It's perhaps not as potent a wedge as, say, gay marriage was for the GOP years ago. But it still offers an opportunity for Dems to gather independents and split Republicans.
First of all it's correct on substance--global warming is real, the scientific evidence is linked to greenhouse gasses, its consequences will be catastrophic, and we can do something about it. We know from action on CFCs in the 1980s via the Montreal Protocol that international government leadership and appropriate regulation can not only halt environmental damage but reverse it.
Second, GOP core constituencies are showing signs of fracturing on the issue. Although big oil Republicans and candidates who would court them (Fred Thompson) will never go there, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, a Wall Street pro with a long standing interest in environmental concerns, met yesterday week with a delegation of CEOs led by PG&E's Peter Darbee who are backing a cap and trade market for carbon credits. (A cap and trade program can create market incentives for energy efficiency as long has the overall cap is a firm one, set low enough to matter, and one that ratchets downward substantially year over year.) And California mega-church evangelical pastor Rick Warren has joined the Global Warming Pact and is the leading member of an increasing religious political movement that views combating global warming as a moral issue.
Finally the drowning of polar bears as polar ice melts gives the fight against global warming the kind of feel-bad image that it needs to make it a mommy issue.
If I were Hillary Clinton--who WILL be the Democratic nominee--I'd be working hard to line up folks like Peter Darbee and Rick Warren behind a global warming plank for my campaign. Going green is more than just good policy, it also looks like good politics. Congratulations to the Nobel committee for putting it back in play and to Al Gore for his years of work on the subject.